By Leman Mammadova
Azerbaijan and Iran share common values, history and traditions that bound them. The two countries are eager to develop their non-oil economy, integrate regional transport networks and boost mutually advantageous business projects in order to stimulate trade volume.
Iran is planning to bring its trade turnover with Azerbaijan to $5 billion, Iran's Ambassador to Azerbaijan Javad Jahangirzadeh said at a press conference, Trend reports.
The envoy noted that that the countries will increase the turnover in long term perspective.
As the first stage, there have been efforts to hit $1 billion milestone in the current Iranian year, the ambassador said.
On this matter, suitcase trade and trade transactions carried through customs are in the focus of attention, Jahangirzadeh said.
The ambassador further added that Iran and Azerbaijan cooperate in energy, oil - gas and electricity sectors.
The trade turnover between the two countries is planned to reach $2 billion in short term perspective, he said.
Reaching $2 billion milestone in trade turnover within 7-8 years can be seen as success for both countries, Jahangirzadeh said, adding that much work needs to be done.
Iran sees Azerbaijan as a hub to reach larger regional markets. The cooperation on transportation between Iran and Russia through Azerbaijan is crucial in the realization of the International North-South Transport Corridor project.
In 2017, the increase in cargo transportation through the territory of Azerbaijan between Russia and Iran was 68 percent.
The North-South transport corridor envisages connecting India with the Middle East and the Caucasus, Central Asia and Europe. The purpose of the corridor is to reduce the delivery time to three weeks from India to Russia, as well as to North and Western Europe as the current route takes more than six weeks.
In the framework of the North-South transport corridor, Azerbaijan, Iran and Russia signed an agreement in 2005 on the construction of 375 km long Astara-Resht-Qazvin railway. It envisages the construction of a new railway line in Iran, which will connect Astara, Azerbaijan to the Iranian cities of Astara, Rasht and Qazvin as well as the reconstruction of an existing railway in Azerbaijan.
The railway between Astara regions of Azerbaijan and Iran has been already completed. The Qazvin-Rasht railway has been launched in November 2018.
The Iranian ambassador pointed out that the foundation of the Rasht-Astara railway is not yet laid.
"The Qazvin-Rasht railway project has recently been completed. The Iranian president will attend its opening ceremony. It is possible that the foundation of the Rasht-Astara railway can be laid around the same time," he said.
He also added that Iran will use Azerbaijani specialists to lay the Rasht-Astara railroad.
The ambassador noted that the Rasht-Astara railway will be built with the joint investments of Iran and Azerbaijan.
"Both Iran and Azerbaijan are interested in the earliest completion of this railway," he said, adding that this project is one that is unmatched by any other one in the region and even in the world, and will greatly benefit both Iran and Azerbaijan.
The ambassador also remarked that the work on connecting the Parsabad railroad to Azerbaijan is being done. One of the necessary initial steps is to sketch the map of the planned route. The project is not expected to be completed soon.
The Azerbaijani-Iranian relations have developed and reached a new stage over the past 4 years as a result of mutual efforts.
Azerbaijan’s trade turnover with Iran amounted to $395.1 million in January-November 2018, according to the Azerbaijani State Customs Committee.
Iran's investment in Azerbaijan reached $ 3.1 billion. There are more than 700 companies with Iranian investments in various sectors in Azerbaijan. The functioning of the Intergovernmental Joint Commission gives a special impetus to the development of relations.
Iranian companies successfully operate in Azerbaijan. Two countries cooperate within the Joint Car Production Plant at Neftchala Industrial Zone, Joint Pharmaceutical Plant Caspian Pharmed in Pirallahi Industrial Park, Hydro Power Plants in the Energy Sector "Khudaferin / Maiden Tower".
Expansion of cooperation between Azerbaijani port of Alat and Iranian ports of Anzali and Amirabad is crucial in terms of development of transport and transit relations between our countries.
Cooperation between Azerbaijan and Iran in the field of telecommunications and postal cooperation, cyber security, space industry, Iranian use of satellite resources, mobile communications and internet services is on the agenda.
Leman Mammadova is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @leman_888
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